Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tom Boys and Character Biases

I have been lax on my blog this year, but I’ve never gone a whole month without posting…and it’s May 31st! A true procrastinator like me just can’t resist the challenge of a deadline.

I was considering the other day why I always gravitate towards boy characters. After all, they say write what you know, and I don’t have a Y chromosome. I don't even have boy kids. I have girlie-girls. I mean, seriously, my dryer lint looks like glittery hot pink Peeps.

I was, however, a bit of a tomboy growing up. Perhaps it was my duty in life as the second girl child born in the family to somehow fill the void of the hoped for boy.

So I helped my dad build things. I got muddy, and my knees were always skinned. I could belch the alphabet. I formed excellent attack formations playing He-man. My favorite summertime activity was lining up all my cars at the top of the little hill on my driveway and conducting races. (Though in a nerdiness wholly my own, I also charted the results and statistically analyzed future race winners.)  

But what really made me a tomboy?

I think it was the way I spit-shined my hair. My hair was in a ponytail a lot, which probably caused the little fly-aways that surrounded my head like I was producing my own static electricity.


This was quite unsightly. I knew girls should look tidy, but the thought of having to take a break from setting the world record of times rolled down a hill in row to brush my hair was ludicrous. So, I would spit on my hands and wipe them across my head. Voila! Nice smooth hair.

Last weekend I was working with a friend putting in a butterfly garden at the elementary school. It was hard work and after a couple hours I looked just like my 5-year-old self wearing a halo of crazy hair. But I’m mature now, and I wouldn’t think of licking my hair. So I just poured some water on my hair. Voila! Nice smooth hair.


Do you have a character gender preference? I’m curious if other writers have subconscious biases too.  

10 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness gracious, love the pic! Interesting post too. I tend to write boy characters as well. After I read this post, I stopped to consider all of the main characters in my stories and 95% are probably male. I was also a bit of a tomboy growing up-didn't like to wear dresses, wanted to do what my 3 older brothers were doing-but not as much as you, I think. I liked to play with cars, but also dolls. I liked playing with cap guns, but also preferred not to get dirty. So really, I'm not sure why most of my MCs are male. Seems like I should have 50%/50%. Hmm....

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    1. Yes, I was a fine-looking kid! Let me know what you learn on your own soul-searching of why we write boys. P.S. I forgot all about cap guns. Those were the best!

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  2. You are such an adorable looking kid, Lauri! I've written two stories with girl characters. Writing boy characters comes more naturally to me. I, too, was sort of a tomboy. I also have two boys of my own so that is where most of my inspiration comes from. Funny, we've all played with cap guns and now it seems so taboo to play with those things. Can't even write about it either.

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    1. Thanks Romelle. I know you seriously just want to lick your hands and wipe down all those strands of chaos!! Maybe girl characters are too hard to write? We are complicated beasts, we ladies:)

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  3. Replies
    1. You also think Weird Al is great, so I suppose this is right up your alley:D

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  4. Probably closer to tom boy for me. More like the girl who likes nail polish and will put it on occasionally but it's almost immediately chipped. :)
    Love the image you painted for your dryer lint--and your kid pic!

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    1. I'm sensing a theme here...maybe there's no such think as a tom boy and there's just lots of cool girls just being themselves!
      p.s. Nail polish on the fingernails is a silly endeavor. I've never made it more than 24 hours without a chip. Rarely 5 minutes actually:)

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  5. I wasn't a tomboy to the degree you were, Lauri, but I wasn't a girlie girl either. I did it all, actually. I played stick ball AND with Barbie dolls. Truth is, though, as an MC I naturally think "boy." I just think that way. Why? I'm not 100% sure, but it may be because I don't want to get into the "girly" stuff? Not that I don't have MCs that are girls, but THE MC is typically the boy in the group.

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    1. Yes, I hear you. I've got to do some soul searching on this, because we can't just write girly-girls and the "tough tomboy girl" shouldn't be the only alternative. There should just be regular girls who can do all the same things boys can do.

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